Wednesday, June 29, 2005

I Wanna Be Upside Your Head

Further proof that the general public must hate music ...Carrie Underwood's "Inside Your Heaven" is #1 on four Billboard charts. Don't get me wrong, I like Carrie. I watched all of American Idol, and picked her early on to win. She's got the stage presence of a cyborg, but she's got a set of pipes. The whole problem I have with the show (and I mentioned this in my Bo Bice post) is that America goes on an exhaustive search to find the next great talent and when we find him or her, what happens? The producers shove the winner into their stable of "artists" and saddle them with the most insipid material their crack team of monkey songwriters can churn out. Let's examine the lyrics to this one, shall we?

I've been down but now I'm blessed
I felt a revelation comin’ around
I guess it's right, it's so amazing
Every time I see you I'm alive
(Life sucked until you came along. Gee, you're swell.)

You're all I’ve got, you lift me up
The sun and moonlight
All my dreams are in your eyes
(Being co-dependent is the best!)

I wanna be inside your heaven
Take me to the place you cry from
When the storm blows your way
(Ok...what? Take me to the place you cry from? I'm at a loss. I have no idea what the hell this is supposed to mean. The line could've just as easily been 'Flip me upside down and spank me'. The words are merely placeholders. And this is the CHORUS.)

I wanna be the earth to hold you
Every bit of air you’re breathing in, a soothing wind
I wanna be inside your heaven
(You'll never get away from me now. Let's talk about your feelings for hours on end!)

When minutes turn to days and years
If mountains fall I’ll still be here
Holding you until the day I die
(Mmm, this is probably the best part of the song. I always tend to go for the bridges. This one really isn't bad. Unless you count all the cliches. There are 3. There are also 3 lines. Strange coincidence.)

I wanna be inside your heaven
Take me to the place you cry from
When the storm blows your way... (repeat)
(Keep repeating it all you want, it still makes no friggin' sense.)

Of course, these poetic words are put to the standard mid-tempo melody that is the basis for all Idol singles. And if the original (and I use that term loosely) songs aren't bad enough, all the Idols end up having to slap on a cover of a song that they performed on the show as their single's B-side. Now, I'm not blaming the Idols, as they're just victims of circumstance. Although, the show has been on for 4 years now so you have to think that the contestants know full well what they're in for should they win, and they just don't care if they have to suffer for a few years as a Mindless Pop Posterchild. As far as Carrie goes, it's a shame because she really does have an amazing voice similiar to Martina McBride. And if you're unsure of that, Clive Davis will poke her with a stick and she'll sing "Indpendence Day" for the 423rd time.

What American Idol needs to do is either find contestants who can write their own songs (like Bumpkin Idol, aka Nashville Star), or create another show to find the best undiscovered songwriter in America. Then the winner of that show can write the single for the winner of AI. Anything's better than this feces being flung at us now. And believe me, I have nothing against pop music per se, I'm just tired of that genre becoming a garbage dump for uninspired pastiches of every other successful (or not) pop act that came before. And I realize that it's tough to be completely original these days when pretty much everyone writes about the same things - love, sex, life, death, booze, etc. - but a real artist is at least able to rise above over-mined material and turn a colorful phrase, bust out a really great riff or, at the very least, perform with real heart. Passion always makes the difference.

Don't go thinking I'm a music snob now. I have my moments when all I wanna do is get jiggy with it and just be-bop around to some catchy tunes that I don't have to think about. Several moments, actually. Life would just be kind of boring without some bubblegum. The thing is though, you can only chew bubblegum for so long before it starts to lose its flavor. And while you may buy one pack of gum at the market, you fill your cart with items that will actually fill you up and sustain you. (That was for my best friend Angela, who once called me the "Analogy Queen".) Point being that fluffy acts certainly have their place in the music biz. But they're entertainers, not artists. And the whole problem with the music scene today is that the balance between the two is completely skewed. It's become all glitz and no guts. And that's a damn shame.

For a taste of the aforementioned "passionate pop", here are some CD recommendations:

East Side Story - Squeeze - An oldie, but goodie. With Glenn Tilbrook's beautiful voice and upbeat tunes and Chris Difford's clever lyrics, their songs are templates for anyone looking to write that perfect pop song.
Utopia Parkway - Fountains of Wayne - Very reminiscent of Squeeze, they broke big with Welcome Interstate Managers. This record is so much better though, in my opinion.
Closer - Better Than Ezra - One of my faves, and a totally underrated band. Kevin Griffin's voice is the definition of "earnest".
Fireworks on TV - Bill Janovitz and Crown Victoria - Essentially, this is good old fashioned rock, but Bill has amazing pop sensibilities and knows how to craft really infectious tunes.
Killed By the Lights - Knockout Drops - Same can be said as above, just substitute "Chris Campion" for "Bill Janovitz".
Supergrass is 10 - Supergrass - Yeah it's a greatest hits compilation, but so worth it for the new song "Kiss of Life".
Human Amusements at Hourly Rates - Guided By Voices - Another "best of" record, but if you're just trying to get in to them, this is the best way to go because they have about 200 albums. And since it's a greatest hits, you can skip over a lot of their punky, artsier stuff if you just want to dig right into their jangly, power pop side.

Or just go listen to some Kelly Clarkson. Some of her songs might be trite, but they're not boring. She knows how to deliver.


The Everglades said...

Your interpretation of the new Idol lyrics is hilarious. And all I can think about is that the song writers must really take themselves seriously. Could you ever look yourself in the mirror if you were credited for penning those lyrics, rife with drivel and cliché?

Amazing. Amazing analysis (I wanted to write “analization” but quickly realized it isn’t a word and Billy Crystal didn’t make a movie about “analization”.).


BeckEye said...

No, but I think Ron Jeremy made a movie called "Analize This".

Anonymous said...

Love your analogy. You are the "Queen". I appreciate, as always, your humor and thanks for the shout out :)


Homer Jay said...

I love the bubblegum analogy. You are the queen. I may have to look up a couple of those albums as I haven't hear any of them.

Rigoberto Devers said...

I really appreciate people like you who take their chance in such an excellent way to give an impression on certain topics. Thanks for having me here.


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